News related to "Hurricane Michael"

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22 10, 2018

Hurricane Michael Insurance Claim?

By |2018-10-22T11:40:08-04:00October 22nd, 2018|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims|Tags: , , , |

Hurricane Michael formed from a tropical disturbance off of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. As a loosely organized tropical system, it rapidly formed into a hurricane on October 7, 2018 and subsequently made landfall in the Florida Panhandle at Mexico Beach on October 10, 2018, as a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane. While most Floridians were spared any significant damage from Hurricane Michael, the Florida Panhandle, specifically the cities of Mexico Beach and Panama City, suffered the worst of this major Category 4, almost Category 5, hurricane. To put the power of this hurricane in perspective, Hurricane Michael was the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the United States only behind the 1935 Labor Day hurricane and Hurricane Camille in 1969. It was the strongest in terms of maximum sustained winds since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. All of these unfortunate stats mean that the Florida Panhandle has been decimated by this force of nature.

Hurricane Michael Insurance Adjusting

While the nation and most of Florida watched as the Hurricane Michael narrowed its sights on the Panhandle, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people were going to be devastated by this hurricane. Not only from the damages it has incurred, but the impact it would have on their lives and livelihoods. In times such as these, home and business owners often take some relief in the fact that they have insurance policies in place for hurricane and flood damage. They hope that once the wind subsidies and waters recede, their insurance companies will pay insurance benefits to repair their home or business. Unfortunately, this belief is all too often untrue. Homeowners and flood insurance companies do their best to adjust the claims which will be forthcoming after Michael however; they will be flooded with these claims. As a result, claims will be wrongly underpaid or outright denied. The causes of these underpayments and denials are far-reaching but many result in the fact that the insurance companies enlist ill-prepared field adjustors and claims handlers which results in poor coverage decisions on behalf of home and business owners. Unfortunately, the home and/or business owner is left with dealing with the harsh reality that an insurance company may not be fully covering what it is legally obligated to cover. In order to help the victims of Hurricane Michael, I have put together a list of items an home or business owner may find helpful in facilitating their own insurance claim. Provided the insured has performed everything they’re supposed to under the policy, then it is up to the insurance company to do the right thing. If the insurance company refuses to do the right thing, Property Damage Attorney Jonathon Douglas stands by ready to assist in any way possible.

What to do for your Hurricane Michael Insurance Claim

Most insurance policies typically have a section entitled “Your Duties After Loss”. These duties are directed at the policyholder and should be complied with to avoid any sort of coverage issues that the insurance company may try to assert. A trick in this paragraph is oftentimes found in the first sentence wherein the insurance company sometimes states that “we have no duty to provide coverage under this policy if the failure to comply with the following duties is prejudicial to us.” This is sample language from a HO-3 Homeowner’s policy; however, it illustrates the potential for a “gotcha”-type tactic insurance companies can use to avoid providing insurance coverage. Generally, an insured (homeowner or business owner) must perform the following:

  • Give prompt notice to the insurance company or your insurance agent.
  • Provide reasonable access to the property to allow the insurance company to inspect the loss.
  • To the extent reasonable, retain damaged property and allow inspection of same prior to disposal.
  • Protect the covered property from further damage. This means you must take reasonable emergency measures that are necessary to protect covered property from additional damage and you must keep an accurate record of repair expenses.
  • Cooperate with the insurance company during the investigation of the claim.
  • Prepare an inventory of damaged personal property in the format requested by the insurance company.
  • As often as the insurance company requires:
    • Provide records and documentation insurance company requests;
    • Submit to recorded statements when requested;
    • Submit to an examination under oath if requested;
    • Allow samples to be taken of the damaged or undamaged property;
    • Execute any and all authorizations for release of information requests by the insurance company.
  • Provide the insurance company with a proof of loss form when requested.

Cooperating with your insurance company is imperative to facilitating the adjustment of the claim. While you may fully cooperate with the insurance company, this does not guarantee or ensure the insurance company will fairly and accurately adjust your claim. Remember, there is always the option to get a second opinion on the value of your claim. St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon Douglas and his team focus on providing homeowners and business-owners evaluation and analysis of their insurance claims and will provide the much-needed second opinion related to your Hurricane Michael insurance claim. Don’t settle for what the insurance company initially offers to pay or their initial coverage decision! Call us now for a free consultation.

9 10, 2018

Hurricane Michael Preparedness

By |2018-10-09T14:27:43-04:00October 9th, 2018|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims, Tree Damage Law|Tags: , , , |

As Tropical Storm Michael formed into a Category 1 hurricane on October 8, 2018, I couldn’t help but recall the weeks-long drama leading up to the landfall of Hurricane Irma in September of 2017. Unlike Irma, which developed off the coast of Africa, Hurricane Michael developed from a low-pressure system off the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. While Floridians will not have nearly the amount of time to prepare as they did for Irma’s landfall, there is still plenty of time to take necessary precautions to protect your property and safety. The forecast has Hurricane Michael making landfall Wednesday, October 10th, along the Panhandle/Big Bend area of Florida. According to recent news reports, Hurricane Michael is forecast to strengthen to a Category 3 prior to making landfall. Hurricanes with a rating of Category 3 or higher are considered to be “major” hurricanes. The sustained winds in a Category 3 storm are between 111-129 mph. According to the National Hurricane Center, the type of damage resulting from a Category 3 storm is considered “devastating”. The National Hurricane Center defines devastating damage as “well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Water and electricity will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.”

Considering the nature of this rapidly strengthening hurricane, Governor Rick Scott extended a State of Emergency for the Tampa Bay area as well as areas along the Panhandle and Big Bend. Governor Scott was quoted as saying “This storm will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous”. The life-threatening nature of hurricanes often times occur after the hurricane has already passed but the damage has prevented people from receiving emergency medical treatment based upon road closures, power outages, and supply chain interruptions. Accordingly, to avoid these life-threatening type of scenarios and to heed Governor Scott’s warning, please follow of all evacuation recommendations made by authorities. If you are in an evacuation zone, do not take this recommendation lightly. Only take what you really need with you like your cell phone, medicines, identification, and cash. Be sure you have an emergency kit for your vehicle and ample fuel in your vehicle to avoid the path of the hurricane and seek a safe evacuation location. Finally, be sure to follow the roads which emergency workers recommend, even if there is traffic. Other roads may be blocked and while services such as Waze or Google Maps may show open roads, these roads can quickly become overrun or blocked by debris.

It is important to give consideration to developing an evacuation plan which you share with friends and family members outside of the evacuation area. This will allow them to know where you should be at important time intervals, even in the absence of cell phone service. Developing a written evacuation plan does wonders in reducing the already astronomically high levels of stress that evacuees are going through as well as reducing the stress of their loved ones not impacted by the evacuation orders.

While Michael is developing into a major hurricane, please be sure to stay up to date on the latest news developments. If you are able, try to take photographs of your home/business as well as personal belongings within each so as to document any and all before and after evidence which will be valuable in your hurricane property damage claim which will follow Hurricane Michael. Hurricane Michael will be causing significant damage to homes and businesses throughout the Panhandle area of Florida. It is important to immediately report your insurance claim when the infrastructure and reporting avenues are renewed. Even though an insurance policyholder may have coverage for hurricane loss, this does not mean that the insurance company will properly or fairly adjust your Hurricane Michael claim. Please remember that it is very important to receive a second opinion with regard to your hurricane damage insurance claim. As oftentimes is the case, insurance companies hire outside adjusting firms who may not have the knowledge or experience to fully and fairly adjust your hurricane loss. Accordingly, don’t delay in contacting St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas for a free consultation regarding your Hurricane Michael insurance claim.